Brokenhearted in America

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election and immediate overtures toward authoritarianism, many of us have found ourselves unexpectedly grieving the loss of the America we have trusted since childhood.  One of those folks came to me with a letter she had felt compelled to write to an estranged friend who was a Trump supporter.   After weeks of anguished internal debate, she finally could not bring herself to send it.  I thought it perfectly expressed the sadness and anger that divides us now; so I asked if I might share it with our GMD readers. She does not want me to mention her name so let’s just sign her “anyonymous” with a small ‘a’.

“So I have become one of “those” people. You know, the ones who have let the election spill over into their personal lives, someone who has lost a friend because of it, a friend I still care about but with whom I cannot figure out how to continue a relationship. I cherish my friendships. Lucky as I am to have family I genuinely love, there is a difference. Families have to accept you; friends choose to. To me, that is pretty sacred. So how could I let this happen? This was not an “unfriending” on Facebook. This was face to face across a small desk and was very painful for both of us.

We tried to talk. I apologized for withdrawing after November 8th. I could not pretend that all was well, and I thought it might take a few days to get back to normal, which then turned into more than a couple of months. I mean how does this happen? This was a friend, and the election was over and we had always voted differently. Yet, we had always had each others’ backs.

The apology did not go well. During my absence she had had some difficult times and I had not available. And I believe, like me, she valued our friendship. She felt betrayed and angry over my withdrawal. But soon the apology devolved into respective and familiar talking points. We had been in similar territory before over the years, finally pledging to not talk politics. And so the hardest thing to try to explain and answer was what had changed this time, and why I, too, felt betrayed when I had been the one to withdraw.

” What was different,” she asked. “What was different this time?”

And even now I am not sure why I could love before and find it so elusive now. But I think it has to do with choices truly mattering and that maybe I had not been honest before in our relationship by sidestepping them. Politics do matter. And choices and politics have consequences.

For me, the measure of character is how we treat each other, especially those more vulnerable and powerless. In any human interaction, my friend would most certainly treat people with kindness and respect. But she voted for someone who does not, someone who targets the vulnerable and powerless and weak; it is so easy to blame them and cull the herd. It’s what bullies and dictators do.

As one of our greatest writers said, we all bleed when cut. It seems to me that some people judge their blood, their pain more worthy, their hopes more legitimate. And while I do believe in an “illegitimate” president, I don’t believe in an illegitimate human being. And I just can’t get around that, try though I might.

I admit I am a holdout to “let’s look for the positive.” If anyone who has been struggling does well under our new regime, I will be happy for them. But I fear these gains might be made at the cost of our collective soul. Because, kind and caring as my friend is to those around her, her vote supported someone who treats people as throwaways because he just knows they are “ very very bad” people.

She has often talked to me about her belief in personal responsibility, which is important to me, too. And since she made a choice in her vote, I think that brings the responsibility of accepting that there are those in her life who will act or react based on it.

To maintain our relationship I would feel betrayed by having to pretend the things she supported by her vote are acceptable. If I have to not talk politics or discuss my deep feelings and values in order to stay friends, then I have a choice to make, too.

Sadly, I think I have made it.”

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

4 thoughts on “Brokenhearted in America

  1. Thanks for sharing this letter, Sue. And please thank anonymous, too. … I wonder how many other people could tell a similar story. I certainly can, and it still puzzles me how & why it happened. But as “a” says: “Politics do matter. And choices and politics have consequences.” They certainly do.

  2. Decision did not come easy Sue. Pls remember my uncompromising opposition to DJT and as much of a #nevertrump as a #neverhillary and even supported Marxist agenda-ed Bernie as a final resort following consignment to a nonvote choice of LP Johnson/Weld ticket until they spiraled off of the radar screen.

    Very depressed and extremely saddened by the thought of a DJT or HRC — nutty Stein never an option — prez which ruined the carefree spring-summer break from rigors of the rest of the year some of us Northeasters cherish. One by one each R hopeful was vanquished. Following my father & brother plus everyone around me falling to what I considered the swastika, imagining myself in a zombie apocalypse-like 1930s-circa Deutchland nightmare became eaten alive by anger and bitterness at the no-real-choice while knowing one of these completely miserable fools would win — began drowning in a sea of sorrow.

    With no choice but to wall myself off & fall on in my faith and lots of crying, holding head in hands in sheer mindnumbing terror hoping to merely survive the ordeal. Just as an extended spell of the flu, after weeks suddenly ended like a fever breaking. I was able to let go, while still disgusted with them all didn’t hate anymore. HRC became clear imo as the percieved danger and existential threat.

    DJT rather abruptly ended the arrogant nazi-like bs and sharply changed his tune. Rid himself of thuglike Lewendowski/Manafort duo, replaced sleazyish spokeswoman with sunnier Kellyann, brought on CEO Bannon who at least seemed to clear the deck and get through to & bring some organization to chaotic short-attention span DJT.

    Rather suddenly along with other #Nevertrumpers started listening to his message which spoke to the hearts of those who have faltered following NAFTA & watched our states & nation slowly sink into poverty & disrepair. Alarmed by the selling out of our economy to foreign interests, watching the banking fams & Wall St extract the tiny bit of cream left on the top of our economy plotting their final cut from our sinking ship. The next big gang-bang on the horizon looming — TPP.

    Dissolution of all borders and total loss of soveriegnty to all of the above as “We The (little) People” are once again steamrolled by the rich and powerful courtesy of our congress — now furious at the loss of usefulness ending to election bankrollers.

    Witness the lightning speed of Clintons’ tying loose ends of failed foundation, all along merely bankrolling HRC sellout of our nation to donors. This is what the Clinton Crime Fam & Obamas were sent to accomplish — selling out of our lifes work & resultant demise of our world as they along with fellow wealthy jetsetters & celebrity friends live on walled expansive estates, private police-patrolled gated communities, opulent villas in utter splendor complete with private luxury bunkers sealed off & far from the coming world war and Marshall Law planned for the unwashed as we are left to scratch & claw, duking it out with the rest of the hoi polloi & losers of the world.

    We did not dodge a bullet – but a meteor.

  3. The odd thing is that the Clinton voters have moved on but apparently, like Trump himself, his voters are determined to re-litigate the election over and over again.

    Clinton is history. Everyone has an excuse for the way they voted.

    Now the only reality is that we must face a highly uncertain future, being governed by a man who is pathologically incapable of telling the truth and behaves like a middle school bully.

    How’s that swamp-draining operation going for you?

  4. Experience of your defriending friend likely more common than we realize as many of us likely became tired of being hostaged to political parties, continuation of unending wars & welcomed the relief of an outsider — sorry my experience was received in a negative context, no offense intended Sue.

    Voters have not moved on if there is still continued outrage of DJT presidency, various plots to end it and including grandstanding of wealthy celebrities leading the charge supported by the losing party in actuality represents an
    ongoing relitigation. So-called reasons have a straw-man feel but personally respect the protest of the aggrieved if for no other reason than to release it from their system, reconnect with friends for moral support and shared sentiment.

    Personal intent is not to ‘relitigate’, but sorry, can’t miss the enormity of the import as it affected me and must say have not fully comprehended. Each swipe against Trump in and of itself serves to relitigate, as each downside presents corresponding dilemma if outcome were different.

    Difficult to avoid the very mention of DJT opponent in probably the most epic upset in political history. Each complaint of either HRC or DJT against the other an unending pot-meet-kettle, like holding a mirror to a mirror-infinite. Corresponding traits of each presented an odd but interesting parallel as both came prepackaged with matching crimes.

    Left seems to missing that DJT destroyed not one but two political dynasties — 2 hawks with 1 rock — a corresponding loss, and gain, rendered a draw imo for each party marginalizing & damaging both. As Bernie himself said if Jeb & HRC take turns chairing the same Illuminati meetings there’s little difference between them.

    Soo, the “New world order”-globalism, first pronounced upon all by Bush the elder has been upended. As an Indie gotta say quite a thrill since both parties pretty much suck, as first and foremost serve only to enrich themselves and corporate interests to the detriment of us all and our nation. Pls remember all of our elitist congress had to have known, of all ppl Leahy, we were being spied upon to a similar extent as soviet society but kept it to themselves along with everything else we have a right to know.

    Not really into all the hyped hoopla or repeated recitations of phrases spoken like religious creeds & articles of faith. Personally recognized “Draining the swamp” as shrinking the bureaucracies of government agencies, so far so good imo.

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